Mudcat Café message #803604 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #49818   Message #803604
Posted By: Marion
15-Oct-02 - 11:42 AM
Thread Name: Getting nursing home gigs
Subject: RE: Getting nursing home gigs
Hi Genie. I am convinced that you don't need to be a licensed music therapist to use music as therapy - in fact you don't even need to be a musician for some ways of doing it. But since the term music therapy has a specific meaning in caregiving jargon which is more than the sum of its parts, I think we in the business have to use it more carefully than, say, people sharing stories in the Music Therapy - The Original thread.

I think music therapy has far less potential for harm than prescribing drugs, or counselling, but it has some potential for harm, and I wonder about the legalities of calling your work therapy.

For an extreme example, breaking a hip can have life-threatening complications for an elderly person (but I'm just passing on what I've been taught, that's not formal medical advice ;)). Suppose, God forbid, that someone fell down while dancing to your music and died as a result. Could it not be said that she died while being treated by a therapist who happened to not be qualified for the job? Couldn't that put you, or the facility that hired you, into a difficult situation?

I once talked to an RMT about non-licensed people doing music therapy. She agreed that many institutions will hire someone with that job title who have no credentials, but it wasn't a practice she approved of. She didn't say anything about the legalities of it, but of the potential for harm. When I asked what harm could come of it, she gave me two examples:

1. While music can raise a person's pain threshold, and doing so is a primary use of music therapy, it can be dangerous because if a person is playing along in a euphoric state they might be hurting their joints through improper technique without feeling it. RMTs are trained in helping people to play instruments in an ergonomic way.

2. If a person is having an intense emotional experience in a music therapy session, a person with no psychological training may not be able to handle or respond appropriately to all the feelings that come up.

I'm going to PM Night Owl and ask for her input here. I'd like to know better what the legalities of calling myself a therapist are.

I have also contemplated becoming an RMT, but I'm leaning against it. It would mean four more years of university to be able to do what I can (in my opinion) mostly do already. I think that I have some vocation to help make music accessible to people with special needs but that I can do that as a volunteer and as a "side effect" of working as an entertainer.

Cheers, Marion